BootsnAll Travel Network

Chile Celebrating 200 Years

September 18th, 2010

of independence. Happy birthday Chile!

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Mexico Celebrating 200 Years, Oaxaca State

September 16th, 2010

Televisa’s Bicentennial promo of Oaxaca, one of my favorite states in Mexico. Again with the animals…

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Mexico Celebrating 200 Years, Another State

September 15th, 2010

Veracruz this time around…

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Mexico Celebrating, State by State, again

September 14th, 2010

Following yesterday’s Chiapas video, here is Saltillo…desert country.

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Mexico Celebrating, State by State

September 13th, 2010

A fellow Mexico City blogger has been highlighting a series of videos appearing on Mexican tv that celebrate each of its 32 states as it gears up for the 200th anniversary of its independence. The videos are stunning, if a little touristy. That’s ok though, it’s Mexico’s birthday and she can show herself a little.

Let’s start with Chiapas.

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Raising the Kids to be Bilingual

September 12th, 2010

You might think that a pair of Canadians raising a child in Mexico means the achieving bilingualism is automatic – taken for granted. That was my thinking when we chose to have a baby. After 14 months, it’s proving to be more work than I thought, but not an impossible challenge.

We speak mostly English in the home with Stella, though reading time is a mix of both as we’ve collected an enormous library of children’s books written in both English and Spanish. I’ve been using select programming from Nick Jr, a channel carried on Sky (Mexican satellite tv provider). Dora la Exploradora and a few other programs that are 90% Spanish. We also have a nanny that watches Stella when both mom and dad are at work (about 40% of the year) and she speaks 100% Spanish. So, it looks like we have all the right tools in place.

Stella is not talking yet…a few words here and there, and lots of ba-ba-babble. I’m told that kids raised in a bilingual environment will normally take a bit longer to start speaking so no worries as yet. What I’m most impressed with is her ability to understand either language.

Whether it’s Spanish or English -though mostly English – Stella demonstrates a very understanding of what’s said to her. “Please bring daddy the ball” is answered quickly by her looking for the ball (among a mountain of toys) and bringing it to daddy. Using some Spanish like “donde esta la pelota?” is producing the same result.

It will be interesting to see what her first phrases are, beyond the yes/no, hi/bye, mama/papa words she’s already using. I am hoping it won’t be something like:

“Papa, here’s the pelota. Donde esta my bottle of leche?”

But even if it is, I’ll still be happy.

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Clinton vs Obama on Mexico

September 10th, 2010

An interesting split between President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the problem of drug cartels in Mexico. As reported by the BBC.

Barack Obama

Obama says Mexico drug crime is not as bad as Colombia

President Obama has denied that rising violence is making Mexico more and more like Colombia at the height of its drugs war.

The remark is an apparent contradiction to comments made by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

She said on Wednesday that the drug war in Mexico had begun to resemble the violence in Colombia 20 years ago.

But Mr Obama told a US Spanish-languange newspaper that there was no comparison between the two.

“Mexico is vast and progressive democracy, with a growing economy, and as a result you cannot compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago,” he told the Los Angeles-based daily La Opinion.

Mrs Clinton made her remarks after a foreign policy speech at a think tank in Washington.

Drug cartels, she said, were “showing more and more indices of insurgencies”.

The traffickers were “in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America”, she said.

I think I’ll agree with Obama on this one. The problems in Colombia have always included a serious political angle, in the left-wing FARC. In Mexico, the problems are purely drug related with no political movement working alongside it or in parallel to it.

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Mexico’s Bicentennial

September 8th, 2010

Mexican flags

Big party coming up all over Mexico as it celebrates 200 years of independence. Every town and city should have big events happening at city centers (often called zocalos). has a write up of events going on around the country to celebrate.

Viva Mexico!

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Raising Children in Mexico – A Canadian’s View

September 1st, 2010
Baby girl

Guy's daughter Stella

14 months old is my little Mexican-Canadian daughter…frijolera and canucka, all rolled into one little ball of joy and smiles.

My girlfriend and I are both Canadians, living and working as teachers in Mexico City and when we decided to start a family, we made the decision to have our baby here. That choice entailed lots of questions and research, not only on hospitals and doctors, but on legal questions of nationality and long term factors like education. We’re happy with our decision while our daughter reaps the benefits of being dual-cultured well on the way to being bilingual.

Here are some thoughts I have on the challenges and benefits of having a child in Mexico as a foreigner, in case you’ve stumbled upon this post looking for information on the subject.

Health care. Canadians often take health care for granted, given our universal coverage. Mexico is a good example of what happens to a country that has a two-tiered system and little oversight. A mixed and confusing bag of all levels of care, ranging from very low-cost state care to high-cost private care with anything and everything in between. We had some specific traits we were looking for in a hospital and doctor and after awhile, we found what we wanted.

While we had access to nearly-free care, the state system didn’t meet our needs. We wanted to ensure that mother and baby would be together at all times, instead of baby being in the nursery all day and night. We didn’t want formula to be given to the baby – breastfeeding only. As the father, I wanted to be in the delivery room and stay with mother and baby in a private room.

After looking at several hospitals, one finally fit the bill and the delivery went smoothly. It certainly cost money, but not an unreasonable sum. The doctors we’d chosen were unbelievably good – attentive and available. All in all, it was a better experience than we could have found in the Canadian system.

Nannies, diet, and playtime. We also needed to make some decisions on work, childcare, and schedules. I am lucky to be able to set my own hours at work over the course of the year, so the decision was made for me to play stay-at-home dad for much of the first year. A nanny would help out for the times I did need to work.

Choosing a nanny turned out to be easy. We live in a mixed neighbourhood with plenty of families and have gotten to know many of our neighbours over the year (we bought an apartment in central Mexico City just before Stella was born). Our nanny lives with several of her family members half a block away and has a three-year-old son of her own. She has been a dream and an inexpensive one at that. Stella is quite happy with her and we rest easy knowing she is in good hands while we work.

Nutrition and diet for Stella are other important factors of course. Both my girlfriend and I are big foodies and healthy eaters and the food in Mexico is the top reason we both choose to live here. We wanted to ensure that Stella ate as healthily as possible right from the get go so access to whole and natural foods was important. Local fruits and veggies are a year-round thing and very low-cost here. Very little processed foods are to be found in my cupboards or on Stella’s plate. We started her on solids at 6 months of age, introducing fresh avocado, peas, carrots, and a few other usual suspects and haven’t looked back. It amazes me thinking back to my own childhood how many things I refused to eat and here’s Stella, gleefully trying everything we offer – and none of it has ever come from a jar, a can, or a tetrapak.

Nationality and Education. Having been born in Mexico, Stella was automatically given Mexican citizenship. The hospital provides a record of the birth which one brings to the Registro Civil (civil registry) to obtain a birth certificate. Super simple. Getting her Canadian citizenship was a little more time consuming, mostly due to a change in laws in Canada right around the time of her birth. Nonetheless, after a couple of trips to the Canadian embassy and a number of documents, her citizenship card arrived after 10 months. Strangely, the embassy was able to issue her a Canadian passport with few questions asked, and in less than 15 days whle she was still still a few months old.

Education is probably our biggest concern – and paying for it. Like health care, education in Mexico offers a dizzying array of choices, from state-provided to all levels of private. Stella will be able to attend my girlfriend’s school at a significant discount, but it’s still expensive. Pre-school and kindergarten will be our first proving ground and both quality and cost will be concerns. Down the road, there is university to consider and while we’d like her to attend a Canadian university, Stella will have to be a resident to avoid the costs of enrolling as a foreign student. That may mean doing at least 2 years at a Canadian high school, complicating matters. I guess we’ll see.

All in all, raising Stella here in Mexico is the best thing we could have done for her. She gets the best of both worlds and leads a happy, healthy little life.

Until the terrible twos, at least.

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Hey, I’m Back!

August 27th, 2010

Hi everyone, and thank you for your patience.  I had a problem with this blog not being able to log in for over month. So I gave up.  Turns out it was a small technical error that I just figured out now to solve so I can post again!

There was an ENORMOUS amount of comments to filter through and while I approved a whole bunch, many more I binned since they were too old for me to be of any help.  One comment from a chap in England was amusing, but I can’t publish it due to the drunken rambling and offensive nature of it.  Thanks though, John, it did make me laugh.

What’s new?  I am still working as a trainer for our TEFL course in Mexico City.  I’ve had a baby, now 14 months old.  I’m a little bit older.

What hasn’t changed?  Dave’s ESL Cafe and ELT world are still the best spots to get information on teaching jobs in Mexico.   I’ve another blog elsewhere and am big into Facebook.

Starting today, I’m back at BootsnAll to help keep you updated on the goings-on in Mexico travel and teaching.

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